Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari Ep. 2: It’s hard not to be cynical

Naofumi isn’t exactly Mr. Moneybags, so he ends up buying a demihuman child by the name of Raphtalia. To be specific, she’s a raccoon girl who has seen some things. Honestly, even if he did have the funds to buy a stronger slave, it seemed as though he had his eyes set on the poor girl as soon as he saw her. Maybe he pitied the child or whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Anyways, Naofumi is predictably cold to Raphtalia at first, but he’s cold to everyone. Nevertheless, he gets her all geared out, buys her food, trains her to become stronger, cuts her hair, comforts her when she has nightmares at night, so on and so forth. Sounds like he’s a decent guy, right? Yeah, but he’s still a slave owner. At the end of the day, she couldn’t disobey him even if she wanted to. Should she even think of acting out, a magical seal will cause her to feel great pain. This is becoming a recurring theme in these isekai series lately. Heroes become slave owners and treat their slaves with kindness, but — and this is important — they always have that insurance in their back pocket. Shameless defenders will undoubtedly cry out, “But have you seen him act badly? Have you seen him ever not act with compassion?!” So that’s it, huh? Until a slaveowner mistreats his slave, it’s A-OK, huh? It’s similar to how these same shows always end up glorifying dictators and overlords. As long as they’re benevolent, it’s fine! No one ever seems to grasp the idea that certain ideas are just wrong out of principle.

Another thing that bugs me about Raphtalia is just how young she is. She isn’t simply a malnourished and thus diminutive girl. She’s literally a child. When they go to a restaurant, he buys her a kids meal. When she sees children her age playing with a ball, he goes and buys her one. She essentially sees Naofumi as a replacement for her parents, which is why she quickly becomes attached to him. At one point in the story, Raphtalia becomes strong enough that she no longer has to grind for EXP on silly balloons. It’s time to move up the ladder and murder cute, furry animals instead. Ah, but y’see, her parents were ruthlessly torn apart by beasts in the First Wave, so the girl has developed a traumatic fear for a couple of things: beasts and blood. Nevertheless, our oh-so-principled hero argues that if the child can’t make herself useful on the battlefield, he’ll have to ditch her and find a more willing slave. Having already lost her real parents, the poor raccoon girl has no choice but to swallow her fear of blood and stab the rabbit. Sure, she didn’t comply because the magical seal on her chest made her obey. But she did comply because she feared being abandoned. At the end of the day, Naofumi used the threat of fear against the child. Even if he is technically telling the truth, that’s not how a parent should act. “Durrr, he’s not her parents.” So then he’s back to just being a slave owner, right? Gotcha.

Eventually, this same sort of thing goes down again near the end of the episode. Both of them have gotten even more levels under their belts, so it’s time to stretch their wings and fly beyond the starter city and see what the rest of the world has to offer them. Plus, new areas mean new loot, and new loot means more money to be made. As a result, Naofumi drags Raphtalia to the mines near the Village of Lute. It’s full of dangerous monsters, but hey, the ores can fetch a few more coins than those herbs our hero has been harvesting. But just as our hero strikes proverbial gold, they are beset by a two-headed dog thing. Since he is the Shield Hero, he has no offensive capabilities whatsoever. We already saw him have trouble against a bunch of balloons in the first episode, so he certainly can’t defeat a beast — even a low level one — on his own. Again, Raphtalia’s going to have to do the dirty work. But again, this situation reminds the girl of her parents’ deaths. So of course, she freezes in place, because — and I know this is a shocker — traumatic fears can actually be really crippling and debilitating. Thankfully, she fears abandonment more than anything. Phew! Good thing Naofumi has that going for him! So just like that, the child leaps into action in order to save her new parent. What’s especially galling about this whole setup is that you just know that she’s going to end up falling for him. The child who eats kids meals and fears being abandoned is going to end up in her new dad’s harem. Gross.

Some people will mistake the words above as outrage. Some people will assume that I’m seething on the inside or whatever. They will then tell themselves that the “outrage” over this show amuses them greatly. Well, whatever works for you.

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14 Replies to “Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari Ep. 2: It’s hard not to be cynical”

  1. If you think this is already bad, just you wait. Pretty much everything you predict what will happen later in this shitty story in your post about the first episode of this anime is correct. Seriously, for a genre that is all about traveling to another world that is supposedly full of wonders and magic and whatever, this genre is also one of the most stagnant and predictable there is. And that isn’t counting the problematic stuff that is just like you’ve wrote in your post are just wrong out of principle.

  2. He owns a slave, if he’s now a scoundrel i think they should just go with that. Making her fall for him only gives an opportunity for people to go “oh but she loves him, she’s not really a slave”

    i see that she’s pretty grown in the op credits, wonder what that’s about.

      1. Yes, and of course she’s also the Main Harem Girl. She even, after freed of the slave magical seal, redoes it willingly, proudly saying is for “love”. Happiness in Slavery and all that kinky distopian jazz…

        Is only slightly less offensive than falling in love with your rapist. Cuz is all of her free choice, guys, no forcing! The behavior conditioning she get’s when she was a traumatized kid totally did not messed her up, silly you!

        A “classic” in the making, according to the 4channers and anti-SJW youtubers. Soon to be forgotten after the next derivative gross Isekai begins.

        At this point, I hate isekai more than incest-type anime…

  3. This was a much better episode, as most Isekai tend to be after they get over that first hurdle of having to do the introduction. The animation was all crisps and great, and raccoon girl seems like she’s going to balance out our lead’s bitterness.

  4. Like I said the series doesn’t really dwell on any of the issues it brings out like slavery and merely glances at it. I’ve read a lot of Isekai and consider Shield Hero pretty good for the genre. It’s a very low bar but the plot progresses at a rapid pace and it doesn’t really have the usual OP mc. The mc’s growth was charming enough for me to enjoy the series as he interacts with other chars.

  5. Sometimes you have to look at whichever situation has a better outcome, even tough they may both be sucky. The choice Naofumi made is the right one. He saved the girl, treats her equally, and will help save the world.

    1. My point isn’t that he doesn’t treat Raphtalia well. Obviously, being with him is better than being sold to some random jackass. The point is that these shows are about escapism and wish fulfillment. A recurring subplot is the main character being forced to own a slave, but we should just OK it because he’s a good guy. I see that as questionable. Isekai authors can dream up any scenario they want, and yet they keep dipping their pen back into the same toxic inkwell.

      1. You sound as if you simply do not accept the value of their actions for the simple fact that this is an isekai’s anime, if he had been born in that world would he have more value and credibility?

  6. It’s funny how the slave narrative contrasts with the one in Death March but it’s all the same in the end.

    In Death March, the main character was blatantly overpowered and free to do anything he wanted. But it seemed like he wasn’t particularly interested in helping slaves unless he came across them by chance (and they just happened to be cute little girls). If you’re in an overwhelming position of power and you’re faced with something as clearly wrong as slavery, don’t you have a moral duty to do something about it? What does it say about his character that the thought didn’t even occur to him? He wouldn’t even have to do it by force, because he had a whole bunch of communication skills to max out as well. Of course, if you go down that route it opens up a whole other can of worms (To what extent is it defensible to force your own beliefs onto other people?), but at least that would’ve made a way more interesting story. And if the counter-argument is “Death March isn’t supposed to be about that, it’s just supposed to be a fun adventure,” then don’t include institutional slavery. It’s that easy!

    But Shield Hero goes in the complete other direction. It wants to make you feel like the main character had no choice but to buy a slave and force her to fight for him. Look, he’s not a bad guy! He’s just trying to survive, and this is the only way! But doing so requires so many contrivances and plot devices that it’s downright silly. It seems utterly absurd that no one would believe him, let alone take a neutral stance and support him just because they need him to, you know, save the world. And that’s on top of the fact that they were already treating him poorly before the incident. Shield Hero wants so bad for you to say “it can’t be helped, he had no choice,” that it breaks the fourth wall and you see that there was a choice all along, and it was the author’s. This is not a world where things just happen to be the way they are. The author put slavery into the story by choice, either to make it edgier, or to make the protagonist seem like a good guy because he’s treating his personal property like a person. And neither of those is a particularly good reaon.

    It wouldn’t even have been hard to avoid this particular mess. She could’ve been a fellow outcast who sees in him a way out for herself. Lose the uncomfortable power dynamics and a story about the two of them struggling together could’ve been fine. But that’s clearly not the direction it’s going in.

    Honestly though, I’m way more bothered by all these stupid video game mechanics. Arghhh, who wants to watch a character in a story grind for experience??

    1. No matter what the protagonist or the story does, all of you will always turn the negative side because
      – If MC buys slaves and treat them like human beings instead of as slaves: They say the show portrays slavery as something good.

      – If the MC buy slaves and treat them like garbage: They would say is too violent and that it promotes slavery as well.

      – If MC does not buy the slaves: They would say something like: he did not save them, he let them to their death or to be purchased by another person, thus it promotes slavery.

      -If MC buys slave, then release them: same as before, they would argue that slave can be re captured and re selled, therefore he didn’t save them.

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